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Part of the reason why 55.8 percent of dogs in the United States are overweight is the diets their owners feed them, according to a survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. Weight gain in dogs can also be caused by bacteria in their stomach or gut, genetics and hormone imbalances. What that means is that simply changing the diet is not necessarily going to get your dog back in shape. To get your dog to lose weight, you must understand why the dog overweight in the first place.

Why a majority of dogs are overweight

As the number of overweight dogs keeps increasing, obesity rates among human adults are also rising sharply, according to a 2018 report by federal health officials. People eat a lot of readily available and cheap junk food, and every time they eat, they also feed their dogs. Pets that are fed ad libitum are more likely to become obese and have shorter life spans, according to a paper published in the PMC database. Owners of overweight dogs are also likely to be obese or overweight according to an article on Psychology Today, which means they may be less likely to take their dogs out for walks or to dog parks.

How to help your dogs lose weight

Just like with human beings, you may help your pet lose weight by providing smaller food portions and increased exercise. For example, 38 percent of respondents said that they managed to help their dogs lose weight by reducing the amount of food their dogs ate each day, according to a study by the Association for Pet Obesity. You and your dog can also benefit from regular walks and hikes, both physically and mentally. Remember to increase the walking distances gradually every week to get your dog used to the activity and don’t be afraid to check out the benefits of CBD oil for dogs with regards to weight management and goals.

When reducing your dog’s food portions, ensure that dietary energy intake is less than energy expenditure, just like in humans aiming to lose weight. Humans gain energy through intake of food and drink, and expend that energy when they are active or at rest. When this energy intake equals expenditure, energy balance is gained, according to a paper published in the Touch Endocrinology database.

Leaner and healthier dogs

The diet you create for your overweight dog should have more quality protein and micronutrients, and should be less energy dense, according to a paper published on the PMC database. The result of this is that your dog will preserve lean tissue mass without developing nutrient deficiencies. An effective diet should also be filling so that there is reduced begging behavior from your dog. You can achieve this filling effect by adding more dietary fibre into your dog’s diet. Dieting and exercise can take time to show significant results, but this should not make you use weight loss medication for dogs, as there is little evidence that this works.

If all the recommended weight loss programs do not work, then you will need to take your dog to a veterinarian. The vet can order tests to determine what is causing the dog to gain weight, and then offer solutions.

This article was written by Jane Wood. To contribute to our blog, please email

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